Quentin Letts’s exposure for Campaign for Merit in Business

Visitors to the blog of the Anti-Feminism League http://fightingfeminism.wordpress.com may recall that in March 2012 the writer, broadcaster and Daily Mail columnist Quentin Letts gave the League some welcome exposure:

http://fightingfeminism.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/the-estimable-quentin-letts/

I’m delighted to report that Mr Letts has given exposure to the Campaign for Merit in Business in his Mail column today:

The Harriet Harman-ite push for more women on company boards has suffered a setback – thanks, oh dear, to a member of the sisterhood. One of the main arguments heard in favour is that companies with female directors will make bigger profits.

However, Cranfield University’s Professor Susan Vinnicombe, appearing at a House of Lords inquiry into the idea, has now torpedoed that theory. ‘It does not make sense,’ she stated.

The Campaign for Merit in Business, which opposes feminist tokenism, is cock-a-hoop. But will Prof Vinnicombe’s admission stop Business Secretary Vince Cable interfering with the independence of firms that appoint directors on ability rather than gender?

A link to the column:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2183326/Cripes-A-Tory-Borises-Boris.html

We need to talk about Vince Cable… again

The Business Secretary continues to talk and write utter nonsense on the topic of gender diversity in the boardroom. Only Lord Davies compares with him as a bullying male proponent of the initiative. On 16 July the Evening Standard published an article by Cable which plumbed new depths, ‘City passivity and prejudice is still sidelining women’. I had to reply:

120721 open letter mailed to Vince Cable

Professor Susan Vinnicombe, the world’s leading academic proponent of ‘more women on boards’, makes a remarkable admission to a House of Lords inquiry

Regular readers of this blog will need no introduction to two of the leading British proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms, Professor Susan Vinnicombe and Dr Ruth Sealy, respectively Director and Deputy Director of the Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders (‘CICWL’). Professor Vinnicombe founded CICWL in 1999, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these indefatigable ladies are leading lights in their movement globally. Who better, then, to stop the Campaign for Merit in Business in its tracks, by providing evidence for the long-claimed yet elusive causal link between ‘improved’ gender diversity in the boardroom, and enhanced corporate performance? Sadly, they have yet to provide such evidence to us. The reason has just become clear, and it is with particular interest that we have read the minutes of last Monday’s House of Lords sub-committee meeting on ‘Women on Boards’:

120716 House of Lords sub-committee meeting minutes

Much of the content will come as no surprise to people who follow this topic closely, and we may post a detailed critique of the report in the coming days. It seems to us from the minutes of the committee’s meetings that all 11 peers (three of them Conservatives) are supporters of ‘improved’ gender diversity in boardrooms, and all the witnesses questioned have been likewise. Indeed, many of the latter have been professional proponents of ‘improved’ gender diversity. Not a single dissenting voice has been heard. If this is democracy, I’m an aubergine. I’m reminded of the December 2010 CBI report, ‘Room at the Top’, whose 14 co-signatories included 9 women, along with five men who were already on record as being supporters of ‘improved’ gender diversity on boards.

The most interesting section of the minutes is possibly that between pages 4-7, questions 199-201. For the time being we’d just like to bring to your attention Professor Vinnicombe’s response to a question put by Lord Fearn, which I’ve reproduced below. I’ve indented the key sentences. Our thanks to Professor Vinnicombe for her integrity in making these statements. We can only hope that others (Vince Cable and Lord Davies come to mind) start to display more honesty in this area. But let’s not hold our breath, because they’d be admitting what we have long known – there is no financial case for improving gender diversity in the boardroom. And without a financial case, what is left? Nothing more than left-wing conspiracy theories, fantasies, lies, delusions and myths.

Lord Fearn: Is there a strong business case for improving the gender diversity of boards? If so, does it follow that there is also a strong business case for increased gender diversity on boards across the EU?

Professor Susan Vinnicombe: Yes. We believe that there is a very strong, compelling and comprehensive business case for gender diversity on boards, and it is a case which stands not only in the UK but across the EU and indeed globally. It sits on several broad platforms.

One is talent management. In all the developing countries of the world, 60% of the graduates are now women. We have a tremendous number of women coming in at graduate level to our big corporates. So the fact that we are seeing so few women at the top on our corporate boards is a sheer waste of talent. Talent management would be our first point concerning the business case.

Secondly, if corporates are to serve their markets well, it just makes sense that they need to be able to represent those markets. In many of the markets, women are the consumers, so it makes very good business sense to have women on the corporate boards of those companies.

Thirdly, there has been quite a push in the past – indeed, we ourselves have engaged in such research – to look at the relationship between having women on corporate boards and financial performance. We do not subscribe to this research. We have shared it with chairmen and they do not think that it makes sense. We agree that it does not make sense. You cannot correlate two or three women on a massive corporate board with a return on investment, return on equity, turnover or profits. We have dropped such research in the past five years and I am pleased to say that Catalyst, which claims to have done a ground-breaking study on this in the US, officially dropped this line of argument last September.

However, there are broader, non-financial performance indicators, such as corporate social responsibility, employee involvement, innovation, philanthropy and good communications, which have been seen to be connected to companies that have women on their boards.

We need to talk about Vince Cable

It seems I was premature in declaring a small victory had been won in the battle against the ideological goal of ‘improved’ gender balance in the boardroom. I’d inferred from broadsheet newspaper reports that Theresa May, Home Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, had written to EU Commissioner Viviane Reding opposing EU imposition of quotas for women in the boardroom, that this was the government’s revised domestic position also. I was wrong, it now seems. I’m grateful to Fred for pointing me towards the following article on yesterday’s Mail Online. It concerns the coalition’s ultra-Leftie Business Secretary, and the piece is titled, “Firms face compulsory quotas if they don’t put women in top jobs, insists Vince Cable”:

Businesses could be hit with compulsory quotas to increase the number of women on boards unless they raise the number voluntarily, said Vince Cable. The Business Secretary said he was ready to introduce legal targets if firms had failed to ensure a quarter of executives at board level were female by 2015. He also suggested that if he were prime minister, half of the Cabinet would be women.

More women should be promoted in the boardroom under guidelines being pushed by The Business Secretary. Mr Cable said there were encouraging signs that firms were beginning to heed calls for gender equality – revealing figures suggesting that in the past three months, half of new appointments to FTSE company boards have been women.

He said he planned to ‘name and shame’ companies that fail to make further progress. One in ten of Britain’s biggest firms still has all-male boards. ‘It’s very, very important that women are there in numbers,’ Mr Cable said. ‘Our objective is to get a quarter of all board membership being women by 2015. Our current approach, which is trying to change the culture, trying to name and shame, I think will work. If it doesn’t, we can look at things like quotas. There is a body called the Financial Reporting Council that requires companies to declare publicly what they do. So companies will be in the future publicly identified and there will then be a role for me to go out and say publicly, “This is a disgrace, you should change your behaviour”.’

Asked whether he would introduce quotas if that approach failed to deliver the target figures, the Business Secretary said: ‘I would, yes. I think that’s a perfectly legitimate last resort. But I think the current approach that we have adopted is beginning to produce serious results, so let’s give it a chance.’

The EU has announced a consultation on how to increase women’s presence on corporate boards, warning that progress towards equality is too slow. Mandatory quotas are being threatened if member states fail to make sufficient progress. The EU’s Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, has warned that on current rates of change, it will take more than 40 years for women to hold 40 per cent of board positions in Europe’s publicly traded companies.

In Britain, companies are working towards a voluntary target to increase the percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards to 25 per cent, up from 12.5 per cent last year. But business leaders have warned against compulsory quotas. On BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour the Business Secretary also took a swipe at David Cameron’s failure to meet an aspiration that a third of his ministers should be women. There are five women – all Conservative – in the Cabinet.

In a reference to the new French president’s decision to make half of his top team female, Mr Cable said: ‘If I ever finish up in Mr Cameron’s job, and who knows what could happen, you might well get a Francois Hollande moment.’

Meanwhile, Tory MP Peter Bone demanded that Vince Cable be sacked from the Cabinet after it emerged that the Business Secretary was in contact with Labour to discuss a possible alliance following the next election. At the weekend it was revealed that Mr Cable had held phone conversations with Labour leader Ed Miliband.

The appointment of a noted Leftie to such an important position, and the fact he’s still there, are indicators of how left-wing and feminist-friendly David Cameron is himself. I was warning of this two years ago, and herewith give you a chapter titled, ‘David Cameron: heir to Harman?’ from The Glass Ceiling Delusion:

120106 sample chapter from ‘The Glass Ceiling Delusion’

My open letters to Rt Hon Theresa May MP and Rt Hon Vince Cable MP

[Note added 17 July 2012: my joy at the government’s decision to remove the threat of quotas for women on boards was premature. The risk still remains. The government was merely objecting officially to EU-imposed quotas, but continues itself to threaten them if companies don’t increase the proportion of women on their boards ‘voluntarily’.]

Fresh from celebrations over the government’s decision to remove the threat of quotas for women in the boardroom – a matter reported in this blog yesterday – I read the following in today’s Telegraph:

The Department for Business and the Home Office said a ‘growing body’ of research was showing that ‘diverse’ boards made companies more effective.

Supporters of the Campaign for Merit in Business know this statement is a blatant untruth. In consequence, I’ve just posted a letter to the heads of the two departments officially spreading the untruth, Vince Cable and Theresa May. They’re virtually identical (the letters, not the politicians, obviously, you’d never struggle to tell them apart) and I’ll just include Mrs May’s letter here:

120529 letter to Rt Hon Theresa May MP

I shall post the responses from Mrs May and Mr Cable upon receipt (if any), along with details of ‘the growing body of research’ (if any). Please don’t hold your breath.

A small but important victory for meritocracy

[Note added 17 July 2012: It turned out I was wrong in thinking there’d been a small victory for meritocracy. After I posted the following it emerged that the government’s objections to quotas related only to EU-imposed quotas. The government from David Cameron down – and Vince Cable in particular – continues to threaten quotas if companies fail to ‘improve’ the proportion of women on their boards ‘voluntarily’. What might George Orwell have made of this abuse of the language, one wonders?]

Today’s papers bring welcome news of an important victory in the battle for meritocracy in British boardrooms. The government has made it known that it is to drop its threat to legislate for quotas for female directors in the boardroom. To what extent The Campaign for Merit in Business (‘CMB’) can claim any credit for bringing about this decision, we have no way of knowing, because the government – feminist-friendly in its senior reaches, most notably David Cameron himself – refuses to engage with us. Probably a bigger factor is the belated recognition that only a small number of women (compared with men) have the experience and expertise necessary to contribute effectively as board directors, even at the ‘gravy train’ non-executive director level.

But the CMB remains the only organisation in the UK articulating the case for meritocracy in business, and campaigning against special treatment for identifiable groups (e.g. women) at the expense of other groups (e.g. men). We know from whistle-blowers that our messages are getting across, and the government was faced with the unappealing prospect of imposing quotas for women when it’s clear that this could only damage UK plc, at a time when the economy needs all the help it can get.

Senior business people (men and women) are increasingly accepting the validity of the arguments we’re putting forward. The CBI – as these people’s representatives – should be articulating the case for meritocracy in British boardrooms but as readers of this blog will know, the organisation has caved in to feminist thinking on the matter of gender diversity in the boardroom, despite being unable to offer a shred of evidence to support its claim that gender diversity can be expected to improve corporate performance.

With the withdrawal of the threat of quotas for women in the boardroom, is the battle won? Far from it. This is a small, albeit critical, victory in the fight against ‘improved’ gender diversity in the senior levels of the corporate sector. The campaign to force more women onto boards is ideological in nature, and cannot therefore be defeated, only thwarted. One of the objectives of the CMB is to equip senior business people with the information and the resolve they require to thwart the manipulative women behind the campaign, along with their male collaborators, many of whom are ‘captains of industry’. Besides which, we have yet to see how the odious initiative spearheaded by EU Commissioner Viviane Reding will play out.

It’s presumably no coincidence of timing that the dropping of quotas was announced in parallel with the publication today of a study carried out for the ultra-left-wing Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘EHRC’). The report was drawn up by the Cranfield School of Management, which on gender matters reliably means The Cranfield International Centre for Women Leaders (‘CICWL’), long-term campaigners for more women on boards. Regular readers of this blog will be aware that CICWL is among many campaigning bodies which have been unwilling (or, more realistically, unable) to provide evidence to back up their assertions of a positive causal relationship between more women on boards, and improved corporate performance. I called the CICWL to ask for the job title of the lady mentioned in the article below, Elena Doldor, and was told by the lady on the switchboard that she didn’t know her job title, but her personal title is ‘Ms.’ Quelle surprise. Women working in the field of ‘gender diversity’ often seem to be titled ‘Ms.’ A little clue there to their left-wing politics.

My thanks to Michael Klein of http://sciencefiles.org for supplying me with a PDF of the ‘study’ in question. Enjoy:

120528 Cranfield School of Management report for EHRC

With the EHRC being so left-wing, what better paper to draw upon for an article on this topic than the Guardian? Obviously my political convictions prevent me from buying the paper but I was able to copy down the following article from today’s edition at the library. It’s basically a rehashed ‘glass ceiling’ story, as usual:

MALE ELITE BARS WOMEN’S WAY TO TOP, SAYS STUDY

The ‘male-dominated corporate elite’ occupying the boardrooms of the UK’s biggest companies is deterring the appointment of women to the upper echelons of corporate Britain, the equalities watchdog warns today. The first in-depth study of recruitment of non-executive directors by headhunters, carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, finds that the men who hold the majority of seats around the tables of the 350 biggest companies listed in London tend to select new members with similar characteristics to themselves…

“The often subjective way of making appointments ends up replicating existing boards rather than bringing in talented women who bring real benefits to individual company performance and ultimately help Britain’s economic recovery,” said Lady Prosser, deputy chair of the EHRC.

It is now more than a year since Lord Davies, the former banker and a Labour trade minister, set out targets for women to hold 25% of boardroom positions by 2015, and the government is preparing to tell European policymakers that it does not endorse proposals for mandatory quotas in boardrooms across Europe…

In January this year there were 143 women in non-executive director roles in the  FTSE100 and only 20, or 6.6%, in executive roles.

The report for the EHRC, by Cranfield School of Management, was based on academic literature and interviews with 10 headhunting firms in London which had signed up to a new code. Elena Doldor, author of the report, says that headhunters needed to do more to keep women in the running for boardroom positions…

The study shows that the appointment of board members is often driven by a “homogeneous elite group of individuals at the top of the FTSE100 companies”…